Here is Newcastle’s squad:
Karl Darlow – 38 league starts – 3420 minutes
Martin Dúbravka – 0 league starts – 0 minutes
Rob Elliot – 0 league starts – 0 minutes
Ciaran Clark – 9 league starts + 2 subs – 858 minutes
Paul Dummet – 21 league starts + 5 starts – 1987 minutes
Federico Fernández – 17 league starts + 2 starts – 1484 minutes
Jamaal Lascelles – 32 league starts – 2748 minutes
Achraf Lazaar (returning from loan with Sheffield Wednesday) – 3 league starts + 1 sub – 220 minutes
Florian Lejeune – 12 league starts – 1055 minutes
Javier Manquillo – 12 league starts + 6 subs – 1100 minutes
Fabian Schär – 22 league starts + 2 subs – 2004 minutes
DeAndre Yedlin – 28 league starts + 1 sub – 2475 minutes
Rolando Aarons (returning from loan with Sheffield Wednesday) – 6 league starts + 3 subs – 556 minutes
Christian Atsu – 15 league starts + 13 subs – 1488 minutes
Jack Colback (returning from loan with Nottingham Forest) – 38 league starts – 3387 minutes
Isaac Hayden – 21 league starts + 4 subs – 1864 minutes
Sung-Yueng Ki – 14 league starts + 4 subs – 1302 minutes
Sean Longstaff – 8 league starts + 1 sub – 688 minutes
Jacob Murphy (returning from loan with West Brom) – 12 league starts + 12 subs – 1130 minutes
Matt Ritchie – 35 league starts + 1 sub – 2940 minutes
Henri Saivet (returning from loan with Bursaspor) – 24 league starts + 5 subs – 2090 minutes
Jonjo Shelvey – 10 league starts + 6 subs – 944 minutes
Miguel Almirón – 9 league starts + 1 sub – 763 minutes
Dwight Gayle (returning from loan with West Brom) – 34 league starts + 6 subs – 2936 minutes
Yoshinori Mutō – 5 league starts + 12 subs – 519 minutes
Joselu Sanmartín – 5 league starts + 11 subs – 587 minutes
Despite avoiding relegation and finishing 13th on 45 points (winning 12, drawing 9 and losing 17) after only gaining 3 points from the first 10 matches, the 2018/19 season was a failure for Newcastle as it saw Rafael Benítez leave at the end of the season due to him and owner, Mike Ashley fell out as Rafa felt Mike Ashley lacked ambition with Newcastle. This was a huge loss as Rafa won the Championship with the Magpies in his first full season then kept them from relegation in the 2 seasons that followed despite the lack of financial backing and the squad remining Championship standard. In the 2018/19 season, Newcastle only scored 42 goals, with only the bottom 4 scoring less, and they conceded an impressive 48 goals, the equal 7th best defence in the league along with Leicester which was better than Man United and Arsenal who conceded 54 and 51 respectively. Although keeping Newcastle in the Premier League is considered a success at the moment, the 13th placed finish showed regression from the 2017/18 season. In Newcastle’s first season in the Premier League (2017/18), they finished 10th having scored 39 and conceded 47 which meant they boasted the 8th worst attack and the 7th best defence, ahead of Arsenal once again who conceded 51 in Arsène Wenger’s last season at the Emirates.
In the EFL Cup, the Northern club got knocked out in the second round by Championship side Nottingham Forest, as the lost 3-2 at home to Forest. In the FA Cup they endured more success as they were knocked out in the fourth round by eventual finalists, Watford as the Hornets beat Newcastle 2-0 at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle’s main priority this summer will be getting in a manager that will keep them from becoming a Championship club and after Benítez had the players used to their 5 at the back, the next manager must be able to implement a similar formation if they don’t want to get off to a rocky start. With Ayoze Pérez’s departure to the King Power having brought in an extra £30 million to spend for their new manager, this summer could be a big one for Newcastle. Newcastle have a rumoured £60 million to spend with an extra £30 million from Ayoze’s departure plus any additional funds from sales which there would be plenty as Newcastle have plenty of Championship quality players.
Whilst the sales of Lejeune (£10 million), Lazaar (£1 million), Yedlin (£10 million), Colback (£3 million), Saivet (£1 million) , Shelvey (£15 million), Joselu (£5 million), Gayle (£15 million) will bring in a good amount of money, it will leave some holes in the squad that will need to be addressed for the upcoming season. The loan of Salomon Rondon ending will also be a massive loss as he was the focal point of their attack under Rafa as he was their outlet, they will have to bring in a new striker without getting any money for their main striker last season.
Although Florian Lejeune is a top centre back for Newcastle, he only managed just over 1000 minutes due to injuries. On the 29th July 2018 he had a cruciate ligament rupture in which he came back on the 31st December meaning he was out for 155 days and then on the 6th April 2019 he had a knee injury, ruling him out for most of the summer which has already totalled to over 90 days of being out due to this injury, if they can get some money for him and reinvest it in a new centre back the Newcastle’s defence will have strengthened and have a more consistent face in their defence. Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback and Dwight Gayle are all coming back off seasons in the Championship but with differing success however none are good enough for the Premier League and Newcastle’s squad so getting money for them would be smart business so they can reinvest it wisely. DeAndre Yedlin is coming off a poor season defensively which doesn’t get noticed in a very defensive side but has the pace to recover but there are better options for Newcastle which they will have to explore. Jonjo Shelvey only clocked up 944 minutes despite not having an injury since the 2013/14 season and the lack of minutes highlights that he is expendable so keeping him when he is valued at £15 million (on Transfermarkt) would be a bad move so shipping him on means strengthening the squad. Joselu has been unnoticeable since joining from Stoke and his seasons at Newcastle have been lacklustre whilst Saivet may be coming off a consistent season in Turkey, he isn’t Premier League quality, so he isn’t required.
After these sales added to the £30 million from Ayoze Pérez leaving and the initial transfer budget of £60 million will leave around £150 million to spend with certain prominent issues that need solving.
Manager – Quique Setién. He may have got sacked at the end of the 2018/19 season by Real Betis after a disappointing last 2 third of the season but the first third was incredibly impressive as well as the 2017/18 season and despite the poor end to his tenure in Seville, over his 95 matches he averaged 1.46 points per game which would mean 55 points over a 38 game season which would have been enough to earn 8th place in the 2018/19 Premier League season, only 2 points behing Wolves. The former Atlético Madrid player favours a 3-4-2-1 in an attacking style which would excite the fans whilst the formation is very similar to the one in which Rafa implemented. This means the transfers will be to suite Quique’s 3-4-2-1.
Right wing back – Benjamin Henrichs. AS Moanco would look to recoup around £20 million for the German. The 22-year-old won’t fly forward to attack but playing as a wingback he would create some chances however he would offer more defensive solidity which would be required if Setién wants to revert to his Betis tactics. The former Leverkusen man averaged 4.2 tackles and interceptions per 90 in his 1827 minutes in Ligue 1 last season whilst committing 1.6 fouls and averaging 1 key pass. In comparison, DeAndre Yedlin averaged 2.9 tackles and interceptions, 1.4 fouls and 1 key pass despite Henrichs being 3 years his junior. Benjamin would offer more defensive solidity with more longevity and grow to suit the tactics more.
Centre back – Matija Nastasic, Schalke will ask for £20 million. The Serb is coming off a diassapointing season in German as Die Königsblauen just about fought of relegation despite finishing second the season before (even though xG said Leipzig should’ve finished second and Schalke were very lucky). The former Man City player started 28 league games and played a total of 2451 minutes, he averaged 2.7 tackles and interceptions. He also averages 44.2 passes with an 82.7% pass accuracy which includes 3.9 long balls which isn’t outstanding but adequate for Newcastle and would improve under Quique Setién.
Left Wing Back – Júnior Firpo, he flourished under Quique and would cost £20 million to £25 million. The Euro under-21 winner has played with Quique at Betis so won’t have to adapt to his tactics so can bed-in quickly and can even be used as a mouth piece for the manager like Jérémy Pied was for Claude Puel at Southampton. The Spanish international has rose to prominence over the last few years with some stand-out performances for El Glorioso and the stats back it up as in the 2018/19 season he averaged 2.6 tackles and interceptions, 1.3 dribbles, 0.8 key passes and 0.8 shots per 90 which led to him getting 3 goals and 4 assists in 1937 La Liga minutes despite Betis’ drop off in the last 2 thirds of the season which means you can expect more from him.
Central Midfielder – Florian Grillitsch, Hoffenheim would look for £25 million to £30 million for the Austrian midfielder. The 23-year-old has gained many plaudits as he is coming off a stellar season for Die Kraichgauer. He racked up a total of 2395 minutes in which he played at central midfield, defensive midfield and even in centre back. He has experience playing for one of the most exciting managers in Julian Nagelsmann which also means he is used to an attacking 5 at the back system and will offer tactical versatility. The former Werder Bremen man averaged a huge 5 tackles and interceptions, 1.1 shots (0.8 from outside the box which can be coached to shoot from better positions especially seen as he scored 0 goals), 0.9 key passes (which earnt him 3 assists), 51.6 passes with an 83.5% pass accuracy which included 3.5 successful long balls per 90 during the 2018/19 season. Things like shot location and pass accuracy will be improved under Quique and he became an important cog to how they play.
(If Sean Longstaff leaves for £50 million then:
Central Midfielder – Jordan Veretout. The 26-year-old is coming of a good season in Florence despite La Viola finishing 16th, just 2 places off relegation. In the 2018/19 season he started 33 matches and played 2944 minutes in which he scored 5 and got 3 assists as Fiorentina scored a disappointing 47 goals which ended up being the 8th worse in the division. He is an all action midfielder as he averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions, 1.2 shots (0.8 from outside the box so his shot location will need improving) along with a healthy 2.3 key passes per 90. He also averaged 55 passes with an 81.8% pass accuracy which would improve next to Grillitsch. Both would offer a lot defensively and offensively as they can do both, Quique could operate them both as box to box midfielder or in any various roles due to their all-round game. He did play for Aston Villa in their horror 2015/16 season which saw them get relegated but he has matured and improved in Italy and deserves another chance in the Premier League.
Centre back: Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbian centre back is coming off a good season in Italy in which he has gained a lot of attention for his performances as he started 34 matches playing 3010 minutes in which he netted 3 times. The 6’4” man averaged 3.1 tackles and interceptions whilst committing 2 fouls per 90 which led to 7 yellow cards, this shows he’s still rash and immature but working in Setién’s team, he would mature into a more well-rounded defender. He averaged 48.5 passes with a success of 79.9% coupled with 3.6 long balls per 90, in Setién’s system this would improve, and he would be more assured on the ball. His side only conceded 45 goals, the 6th best in the league, 1 better than third places Atalanta.
Together, Fiorentina would look for around £50 million for them as Veretout would cost about £20 million and Milenkovic would cost around £30 million.)
Winger – Marcus Thuram, Guingamp would accept a bid of £20 million for the Frenchman. The son of Lilian Thuram carried an uninspiring Guimgamp attack who only scored 28 goals during the 2018/19 season in which Marcus contributed 9 goals and 1 assist, this meant he was directly involved in 35.7% of their goals. However as impressive as this, according to understat’s model for expected goals (xG), he should’ve scored 10.62 and had 2.56 assists which puts him on 0.46 goal contributions per 90 for a side that finished last in Ligue 1 and only averaged 0.74 goals per 90 which would mean he would’ve been directly involved of 62% of their goals. The 21-year-old (turns 22 in August) played off the left during the 2018/19 season but can also play as a striker and could learn to play off the right. At 6’2” he can also a be an aerial threat showing he is very versatile as he is also lightning quick when running with the ball.
Winger – Ollie Watkins, Brentford would look for £20 million for the former Exeter player. The 23-year-old is coming off an impressive season for Brentford despite the Bees stuttering. In 3127 minutes, he scored 10 goals and scored 6 assists, a goal involvement every 195 minutes for a side that finished 11th as he averaged 2.2 shots (only 0.6 from outside of the box) and 1.7 key passes with 1 dribbler per 90 during the 2018/19 season. He has been touted for a move to Southampton so Newcastle would have to move quickly as he is well sort after but if Quique can offer him first team football, he’d surely be keen on the move to St. James Park.
Striker – Neal Maupay, Brentford are asking for £15 million for the striker. The 22-year-old has also impressed for Brentford during the 2018/19 season in which he played 3719 minutes as he scored 25 goals and got 8 assists in the Championship which meant he averaged a goal involvement every 113 minutes. The former Nice man averaged 3.3 shots (a healthy 0.9 from outside the box) with 1.3 key passes per 90 over the course of the 2018/19 season.
Although Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay are coming from the Championship so would be labelled as “Championship quality” which would contradict my previous statement that Newcastle need less Championship quality and more Premier League quality. However, these 2 are clearly too good for the Championship, with no disrespect to the Championship, they are clearly ready for the step up to the Premier League and where better than at Newcastle where they’ll be given the opportunities along with another young talent in Marcus Thuram and for an attacking and interesting manager in Quique Setién.